Comments on war between Israel and Hamas dominate Jewish Republican event in Las Vegas | ET REALITY

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Eight Republican presidential candidates, including the dominant front-runner, former President Donald J. Trump, will address a gathering of Jewish Republicans in Las Vegas on Saturday, in what amounts to a test of foreign policy good faith and a bid for support. of donors, in the midst of a rapidly escalating conflict in the Middle East.

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting has become perhaps the most high-profile meeting of the Republican primary season, taking on added urgency after Hamas’s attack on Israel three weeks ago.

It’s also a galvanizing moment for Republican officials: In a last-minute twist, the event’s schedule changed to accommodate the first national appearance of newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, who will address the group on Saturday at night.

Support for Israel unifies a broad coalition of Republican voters and officials, including foreign policy hawks, business leaders and evangelical Christians.

The war has become a dominant issue in the presidential campaign, and debate over it has been omnipresent at the coalition event, which began Friday at the sprawling Venetian convention center in Las Vegas.

During a Shabbat dinner Friday night, several Republican officials pledged their support for Israel and the Jewish people before an audience of 1,500 donors, activists and officials.

“Here in Nevada, we unequivocally and unapologetically support Israel and the Jewish community,” said Governor Joe Lombardo of Nevada.

Amid expressions of concern and solidarity toward one of the United States’ closest allies, in speeches on Friday (and in prepared remarks by several candidates on Saturday), Republican politicians saw political opportunities in the divisions that the conflict has opened at home.

Several of Friday night’s speakers disparaged progressive Democratic lawmakers who called for a ceasefire, including Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, whose names drew loud boos from the audience. Others spoke of tensions on college campuses, where students have clashed over war.

Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, said that after the attacks, several American Jews “went to bed as progressives and woke up the next morning as conservatives.”

The speeches offered a preview of the type of attacks Republicans could launch against President Biden next year, questioning whether his administration was prepared for conflict in the Middle East and highlighting divisions between the progressive wing of their party and the administration.

“We all know ‘The Squad’ and many Democrats hate Israel. It’s no surprise,” said Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who also took aim at Biden, accusing the president of “aimlessly supporting everything and nothing.”

Trump enters Saturday’s event as the crowd favorite, beloved for his record on Israel as president, which included moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and signing the Abraham Accords, an agreement normalizing relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Another expected speaker is Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, where she made support for Israel her defining cause.

In prepared remarks for The New York Times ahead of her speech on Saturday, Haley rejected liberal calls for a ceasefire, comparing the current climate to that of 1930s Europe. She also positioned herself as the best candidate to beat Biden.

“It took a massacre of biblical proportions to get Joe Biden to defend Israel,” Ms. Haley’s prepared remarks read. “I pray it lasts, but I won’t hold my breath.”

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